Regarding your first question, the best way to know if your relative has schizophrenia is for him to undergo an evaluation. If he’s willing, schedule an appointment with a mental health professional and accompany him for support.
You can talk about his symptoms, if he is open to it and if it’s constructive. If talking about his symptoms makes him anxious, then avoid it.
If, on the other hand, talking about his symptoms helps him gain positive insight about how to better manage them, then it might be fine but you’ll have to use your judgment. It would be best to ask this question to the professional conducting the evaluation, who will be more familiar with his symptoms and circumstances.
Your final question relates to your sister and if she could be affected by his disorder. When a family member has schizophrenia, it affects the entire family to one degree or another. How much it affects each family member depends upon many factors such as whether or not his symptoms are under control, how much education each family member has about the disorder, and so forth. All family members should be educated about the disorder. The more they know about it, the better they can assist in managing it.
Psych Central is a good resource for information about schizophrenia. Government websites are good too. Books are another good resource, including those by Xavier Amador, E. Fuller Torrey, Kim T. Mueser, among others.
Other resources to utilize include the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Treatment Before Tragedy and other advocacy groups focused on assisting families who have a loved one with a severe mental illness.
If you have additional questions, don’t hesitate to write again. Please take care.
Dr. Kristina Randle